Cambodia & Vietnam Experience

26 Days from $1,916

START: Bangkok

FINISH: Hanoi

AGES: 15 - 99

THEME: Explorer

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Description

Prepare for an epic adventure loaded with ancient sights and natural beauty as you travel from the hustle of Bangkok to the bustle of Hanoi. In Cambodia, call into the ancient temples at Angkor, take on beguiling Phnom Penh and get a taste of Khmer hospitality with a village homestay in Chambok. Then veer into Vietnam to trace its coastline from south to north, visiting the chaotic Ho Chi Minh City all the way up to old-world Hanoi, with historic Hoi An and Hue at its centre. Along the way, revel in the sheer beauty of the landscape, the friendliness of the locals and the social organisations that are providing brighter futures for this region. Oh, and did we mention the food? To die for.

Start: Bangkok

Finish: Hanoi

Ages: 15 - 99

Theme: Explorer

Accommodation: Guesthouse (4 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (17 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)

Destination: Hanoi

Highlights

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Enjoy the guidance of a local expert as you temple-hop around the dazzling Angkor complex – one of South East Asia's premier sites.
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Confront the sobering but important Khmer history in Phnom Penh, with included visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
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Experience local life during homestays in the Mekong Delta and Da Bac. Get to know local families, participate in their activities and enjoy a homestyle meal.
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Hoi An is another idyllic pocket of Vietnam that's best experienced from the seat of a bike. Take a guided bicycle tour through the rolling countryside and see local life pass you by.
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Kayak around the limestone karsts and shimmering waters of Lan Ha Bay and help out the locals’ environmental efforts along the way.

Itineraryicon readmoreicon minus

icon check Day 1 : Bangkok

Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you will meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you arrive before this important meeting, why not take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage? There is plenty to keep you occupied is this exciting city.

icon check Day 2 : Siem Reap

Prepare for a long day of travel as we cross Thailand and enter Cambodia. You’ll want to load up on snacks and reading material for the 10-hour private bus ride to Siem Reap. This travel time includes time spent at the border crossings and a stop for lunch. Your leader will assist with the border procedures. Keep in mind, if you are planning on getting your visa at the border, you will need cash in US dollars. Enjoy a free evening upon arrival. You may want to head to Pub Street to grab a bite to eat and sample the city’s nightlife. Otherwise, rest up in preparation for tomorrow’s visit to Angkor Wat.

icon check Day 3 : Siem Reap / Angkor Wat

Today you'll visit the world-famous Angkor complex with your guide. The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 square kilometres; this is the biggest religious monument in the world. However, the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap, so you'll have plenty of time to fully appreciate the great archaeological sites of Angkor Wat (the astounding main attraction), the Bayon (a marvel of many sculpted decorations) and Ta Prohm (the eerily beautiful temples covered in jungle).

icon check Day 4 : Siem Reap

Enjoy free time in Siem Reap today. If you feel like some adventure, you can take the optional Angkor zip-line course, which gives you a birds-eye view of the rainforest, plus an adrenaline rush. Other options here include a visit to the sobering Landmine Museum – it's located a little further afield but is well worth the journey. There is also the Siem Reap Street Food by Night Urban Adventure, a three-hour tour which allows you to taste the many flavours of the city and feel the buzz of the local markets.

icon check Day 5 : Kampong Cham

Travel by public bus to Kampong Cham (approximately 5 hours). This peaceful town was once an important trading hub and is now a great opportunity to experience life in small-town Cambodia. A great option here is to visit the serene 11th-century Wat Nokor. You can also hire a bicycle to explore the rural island of Koh Paen, which is linked to Kampong Cham by an elaborate bamboo bridge (it's passable only in the dry season, take a ferry in the wet). The locals here make their living fishing, growing tobacco and sesame so it's a good place to go for a closer look at some of Cambodia's cottage industries. A little further afield are the twin 'mountain temples' of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei.

icon check Day 6 : Homestay

Travel by private vehicle (approx. 5 hours) into rural Cambodia to the region of Kampong Speu and the village of Chambok. There's a lot of natural beauty to discover here, and the Chambok community is renowned for its ecotourism. A member of the Chambok community will take you on a village walk and be happy to chat about their community’s history, lifestyle and local ecotourism projects. Meet the families your group will spend the night with and settle into your homestay accommodation. You may like to trek to a stunning waterfall this afternoon. It’s a 60-90min trek and access is weather dependant. In the evening, head to the community centre to enjoy a traditional Khmer dinner prepared by women from the community. You'll also be treated to a traditional dance performance.

icon check Day 7 : Kampot

Take a private bus to Kampot (about 3 hours), one of Cambodia's most attractive old towns. Famous for its pepper, Kampot supplied most French restaurants with this vital spice for many years during colonial rule. Today, the region is more renowned for its plantations of durian, a spiky, pungent fruit that incites either adoration or sheer loathing. Try it if you dare! In free time, you might choose to stroll along the riverside and observe the French colonial architecture, or have a cup of coffee on the veranda of one of the riverside restaurants and admire the view of Bokor Mountain Range.

icon check Day 8 : Kampot

Enjoy a free day in this chilled-out town. For a unique photo opportunity, head to the roundabout in the centre of the town, where a giant durian statue sits smack in the middle. Perhaps browse for goodies at the covered market. The nearby countryside is also a delight to explore – amongst fields of Kampot pepper and rice, there’s also a salt field and a limestone cave with a small 7th-century brick temple inside called Phnom Chhnork. A traditional massage is also highly recommended.

icon check Day 9 : Phnom Penh

Travel by public bus to the capital city of Phnom Penh (about 4 hours). Cambodia's capital is set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and boasts some fine examples of French-inspired architecture. A recommended option is to visit the Choeung Ek Memorial, where a stupa made of some 8000 human skulls marks the site of the infamous Killing Fields, the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng. Or learn about a brighter period of Cambodian history by visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. Wat Phnom, shrouded in myth, is equally worth a visit, as is the National Museum with its excellent Khmer collection. Cyclo tours around the city are a great alternative to walking and generally include the central market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong river front, independence monument and Royal Palace. Keen shoppers can hit the art-deco Psar Thmei (Central Market).

icon check Day 10 : Phnom Penh

Enjoy another free day to further explore This will be your last night in Cambodia before moving on to Vietnam tomorrow. If you're looking to indulge in some proper rest and relaxation, the Seeing Hands massage parlours are some of the best in the city, and all patronage supports the visually impaired masseurs whose years of expertise may be just what you need today.

icon check Day 11 : Ho Chi Minh City

Travel by local bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 10 hours including border crossings and lunch). Your leader will again assist you with border crossing procedures. Get out and discover the Ho Chi Minh City's blend of old and new, East and West, when you arrive. Be sure to sample a baguette or some of the excellent coffee on offer – both markers of the city's strong French influence. Equally essential are visits to Reunification Palace (the site of South Vietnam's surrender in April 1975) and the War Remnants Museum. Some of Intrepid's Urban Adventures available in this city include Mekong Discovery, Cyclos & Markets, Cu Chi Experience and Saigon Street Food by Night. If you're staying longer in Ho Chi Minh City and you'd like to take one, your leader can help you book.

icon check Day 12 : Ho Chi Minh City

Today you may be required to move to a different hotel in Ho Chi Minh City for the next section of your trip. Your leader will let you know if this is the case, and will help with the transfer to the next hotel. Enjoy a free day today. Some of Intrepid's Urban Adventures available in Ho Chi Minh City include Cu Chi Experience, Cyclos & Markets, and Saigon Street Food by Night. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting on the evening of Day 12 to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.

icon check Day 13 : Mekong Delta

Make your way to the province of Ben Tre, where you’ll get on a boat to tour the canals of the Mekong Delta. This fertile area is famous for its abundance of fruit, flower and rice crops, and is known as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam. During your boat ride you’ll visit some local cottage industries and then head to your local guesthouse. Staying in simple local accommodation close to the Delta and hosted by a Vietnamese family will be one of the highlights of your trip as you get a taste of the life of a local and enjoy a home cooked meal.

icon check Day 14 : Mekong Delta - Overnight Train

Rising early to the sounds of the delta coming alive, we enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding our boat, and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy some free time in Ho Chi Minh City this afternoon, perhaps visit the War Remnants Museum or Reunification Palace. This evening, board an overnight train to Tuy Hoa. Conditions are basic on these trains and hygiene standards may be lower than what you’re used to at home, however overnight trains are the best way to brush shoulders with the locals and make the best use of your time. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers like to take some food for the journey.

icon check Day 15 : Tuy Hoa

Arrive in Tuy Hoa early this morning for two days by the beach. Though Tuy Hoa is much quieter than its southern neighbours, you'll still find the perfect spot of sand to lay down a towel and plenty of dining options. Check out the Eglise de Mang Lang and Da Dia Reef, or head south to the Mui Dien lighthouse for a nature fix.

icon check Day 16 : Tuy Hoa - Overnight Train

Today is all yours! Soak up some more free time on the beach. Board an overnight train late in the evening, bound for Danang (approx. 8 hours).

icon check Day 17 : Hoi An

Arrive in Danang and travel by minibus for one hour to Hoi An. Hoi An was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is being beautifully restored. It was a major trading port with the west from the 17th century onwards. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago. Your leader will take you on a sightseeing walk through the Old Town and visit some of the city's major attractions. A sightseeing pass is included in your tour for you to visit a selection of the major sights as you wish. Hoi An is also a shopping mecca, so head down to the markets and street stalls to browse paintings, woodwork, ceramics and lanterns. Hoi An is famous for its tailors who can make beautiful items to order.

icon check Day 18 : Hoi An

Go on a bike ride through the countryside near Hoi An. There's no better way to explore the peaceful area than by bike. You’ll see places few tourists get the chance to see among green rice paddies and small creeks. You’ll get a true insight into rural life in Vietnam.

icon check Day 19 : Hue

Say goodbye to Hoi An this morning and make your way to Hue. The drive in our minibus will take about five hours, but along the way you’ll stop at My Khe Beach (China Beach) and the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co. You’ll be travelling on the incredible Hai Van Pass, through lush mountains. Once in Hue, you’ll have a free afternoon to explore. Hue was once Vietnam’s Imperial capital and has a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil enclaves. Perhaps visit the Dong Ba Market, which sells everything imaginable and is a great place to spend some time.

icon check Day 20 : Hue - Overnight Train

Enjoy a free day in Hue. Perhaps visit the Imperial Citadel which includes the Forbidden Purple City that was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam war. The gaping holes left by bombs give you an idea of how much destruction occurred in this country. Another optional activity is a dragon boat cruise along the Perfume River and then a visit to Mu Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. Here you’ll see an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601, and a car belonging to a monk who set himself alight in protest against the treatment of Buddhists. You may also like to visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees. This afternoon take another overnight train bound for Hanoi. The journey will take approximately 12 hours.

icon check Day 21 : Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi at about 5am and transfer to your hotel. Today you’ll take a walking tour of Vietnam’s charming capital. Explore the 36 streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, including the Dong Xuan Market, Hoan Kiem Lake and the unique architecture nearby. Hanoi has a French provincial feel remaining from its colonial times, but it also has a Buddhist influence and striking modern buildings. The rest of the day is yours to explore Hanoi as you please.

icon check Day 22 : Da Bac

Leave Hanoi after breakfast around 8 am and make the drive to Sung village (approximately 4 hours). There are around 70 families living at Sung Village and the majority are Dzao ‘Tien’ people. Farming and forest plantation are their main source of income. Enjoy lunch at your homestay then take an introductory walk around the village. After getting to know the village better, take a short trek (2 kilometres) to the alluring Sung Cave and visit a 100-year-old tea plantation. The trek has some steep and slippery sections so please ensure you have suitable footwear for this activity. After a handicraft workshop, return to your homestay accommodation for a nice hot shower and a delicious dinner.

icon check Day 23 : Hanoi

This morning, have an opportunity to take in more of the Vietnamese highlands on a 10 kilometre (6.2 mi) trek from Sung Village to Da Bia. The first 8km of the trek is mostly flat ground along well-worn buffalo tracks. The final 2km gradually inclines and for a period of approximately 300m there are some steps to climb, however the walk will be a steady relaxed pace. Keep an eye peeled for the monumental stone at the peak of Da Bia Mountain during the hike that takes us through the local villages, meeting people from the ethnic Muong tribe along the way. Stop for lunch at Da Bia before enjoying a scenic 1.5 hour boat cruise on Hoa Binh hydropower reservoir. Arrive at Thung Nai then board a bus transfer to Hanoi (approximately 2 hours). Arrive in Hanoi at around 6 pm. This evening is free for you to explore this delightful city. Why not relax with a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter?

icon check Day 24 : Cat Ba Island

Rise and shine for the 7.30 am bus, stop for a quick break, then jump on the ferry. This morning of travel will deliver you to beautiful Cat Ba Island before midday.There's no time to waste, so begin exploring the picturesque waters around Cat Ba. You’ll board a boat and spend the rest of the day cruising the breathtaking Lan Ha Bay. Located in the greater Halong Bay area, Lan Ha Bay is one of Vietnam’s most scenic places, where limestone islands and caves rise from the emerald waters. Enjoy lunch on board, then get up close and personal with giant karsts in a kayak. Stay overnight on Cat Ba Island and enjoy a dip at one of the beaches and a cold beer.

icon check Day 25 : Hanoi

Wake up in paradise, maybe starting your morning with a refreshing swim. Make sure you soak up as much sun and sand as possible, because this afternoon it's back to Hanoi via ferry and bus. Tonight you can head out for an optional last dinner with your fellow travellers.

icon check Day 26 : Hanoi

There are no activities planned for today and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time after check out.

What's Included?icon readmoreicon minus

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Meals

4 Breakfasts, 3 Dinners
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Transport

Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus, Taxi
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Accommodation

Guesthouse (4 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (17 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)
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Included Activities

  • Cat Ba Island - Boat trip on Lan Ha Bay

Important Detailsicon readmoreicon minus

icon readmoreicon minusJoining Point

Astera Sathorn Hotel

143 South Sathorn Rd., Yannawa, Sathorn

Bangkok

10120

THAILAND

Phone: 22127090

Fax: 22123610

icon readmoreicon minusFinishing Point

Rising Dragon Hotel

17 Nguyen Van To Street

Hoan Kiem

Hanoi

VIETNAM

Phone: +84 2439233889

icon readmoreicon minusImportant information

1. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for train tickets. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket.

2. A single supplement is available on this trip, subject to availability. Please contact your sales agent if you would like to book this. Please note the single supplement excludes days 6, 13 and 22 (homestays) and days 14, 16 and 20 (overnight trains) where you will be in shared accommodation. Day use rooms are also excluded.

TRAVELLERS ON THE 24 DECEMBER 2019 AND 29 DECEMBER 2019 DEPARTURES:

This is a combination trip, consisting of Cambodia Adventure (TKRR) and Vietnam Discovery (TVRN).

As these departures commence in December and conclude in January, the first trip from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City will be running on the 2019 itinerary.

The second trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi will be running on the 2020 itinerary.

There will be a change to the second trip, where the two nights in Tuy Hoa will be replaced with an extra night in Hoi An and an extra night on Cat Ba Island.

For full details of the second section of these departures, please view the 2020 itinerary on this page and review the Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi days of the trip.

icon readmoreicon minusGroup leader

All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

icon readmoreicon minusSafety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-field

FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts. PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING: Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities.

icon readmoreicon minusVisas

As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.

Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

THAILAND:

If entering by air most nationalities will be granted a 30 day stay on arrival. If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only (some exceptions are citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan who are eligible for 30 day visa at land borders). A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB or alternatively you can apply for a Thailand visa in advance from your embassy or consulate that will allow a 30 day stay when entering at an overland border.

If planning to enter Thailand via a land border multiple times during your travels, we recommend you pre-obtain a 60 day multiple entry visa from you embassy or consulate before you travel rather than attempting to obtain a visa at the border on multiple occasions which may result in being denied re-entry into the country.

CAMBODIA VISAS:

If a point of contact is requested for your visa application, please write:

Intrepid Cambodia

92 Taneuy Street

Wat Bo Village

Siem Reap

Evisas are now available for most nationalities through the official website: www.evisa.gov.kh

Please note there have been reports of fraudulent evisa websites that mirror the official site. Intrepid recommends only using the official website listed above or arranging your visa through your booking agent.

VISA ON ARRIVAL

Visa on arrival is available for for most nationalities at airports or land border crossings for approx. US$35 (cost subject to change). You will need a passport photo for your visa.

OTHER VISAS

If you are not eligible for an evisa or visa on arrival you may need to submit an application through your local consulate. Allow up to 3 weeks for processing.

VIETNAM VISA:

Most nationalities are required to obtain a tourist visa in advance to travel to Vietnam. When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing with your nearest embassy or consulate, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Please check with your embassy or consulate for further requirements.

While it is possible to enter Vietnam via a land border with an evisa, previous travellers have reported being delayed and asked for additional payments. As entry to Vietnam is subject to local government approval, we have no authority to speed up the process. If this is of concern to you, we recommend getting a Vietnamese visa in your passport prior to travel.

Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days, including British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes). This exemption period is currently effective until 30 June 2021, and is based upon meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. If you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance (please contact your relevant consulate or embassy). Please also check requirements if you plan to re-enter Vietnam.

Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.

If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 5th floor HiPT Building, 152 Thuy Khue Street, Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Ph +84 4 3715 0996.

Most nationalities do not require a letter of invitation for Vietnam but if you do need one, please contact your sales agent for more information.

BORDER CROSSINGS:

Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international/administrative border crossings for this trip:

Day 2 Thailand to Cambodia

The Thailand border is Aranyaprathet

The Cambodian border is Poipet

Day 11 Cambodia to Vietnam

The Cambodian border is Ba Vet

The Vietnam border is Moc Bai

To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following website useful: http://www.timeanddate.com

DUAL PASSPORT HOLDERS:

For travel between countries in South East Asia you will need to travel on the same passport for all border crossings. Immigration authorities will need to see entry and exit from the previous country before allowing you to enter their country.

icon readmoreicon minusWhy we love it

Enjoy the guidance of a local expert as you temple-hop at the dazzling Angkor complex, one of South East Asia's premier sites

Experience local life during homestays in Chambok and Da Bac. Get to know local families, participate in their activities and enjoy a homestyle meal.

Enjoy some beach time in Tuy Hoa

Hoi An is another idyllic pocket of Vietnam that's best experienced from the seat of a bike. Take a guided bicycle tour through the rolling countryside

Cat Ba Island is dotted with tiny beaches and verdant jungle, situated in karst-studded Lan Ha Bay

icon readmoreicon minusIs this trip right for you

This trip involves a lot of public transport and some long days of driving, so some patience will go a long way towards your enjoyment here. Sit back, relax, watch the scenery go by, and embrace travelling like a local.

We cover a lot of distance on this trip, including on overnight trains. Accommodation and amenities are shared and basic, but the experience of rubbing shoulders with the locals makes it all worthwhile. For more about what this experience is like, see our blog post here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-an-overnight. 

You'll be spending two nights with local families on this trip. While the accommodation is shared and basic, this is a great opportunity to connect with the local people (and enjoy delicious home-cooked meals!). Read more about the experiences here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/community-based-tourism-vietnam/ and https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/cambodia-homestay-experience

This being a Basix trip, there are less included activities and meals, and more free time for optional activities.

While this gives you freedom and flexibility, it does require a level of independence.

Your visit to Hoi An includes a bicycle tour of the surrounding countryside. Although the ride isn’t strenuous, you will need a basic level of fitness to take part.

There is an included hike of up to 6km (3.7 mi) in the countryside in Da Bac. Good walking shoes are recommended. While this hike is in the capabilities of most travellers, please let you booking agent know if you have any concerns.

icon readmoreicon minusHealth

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES:

Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are widespread in South East Asia. Malaria is also prevalent in some regions, particularly along the borders in mountainous regions. Take preventative measures such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. Seek medical advice prior to travel for medication or vaccination advice.

ZIKA VIRUS:

There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.

AIR POLLUTION AND SMOKE HAZE:

Bangkok and other Thai cities experience high levels of air pollution, which may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. These can be particularly high between the months of December and February. Smoke haze, which usually occurs across parts of north and north-east Thailand during March to April, can also aggravate these conditions. Regular air quality reports are available from the following website http://aqicn.org/city/bangkok/

icon readmoreicon minusFood and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

CAMBODIAN FOOD:

Wondering what Cambodian food is like? Check out our guide to the local cuisine here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/cambodian-food-guide/

Is it true they eat spiders in Cambodia? Read about it here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/cambodia-eating-spiders/

BREAKFASTS:

At some hotels you may have a menu or buffet with choices of Cambodian and Western food. At homestays you will have simpler breakfasts of local foods, eggs, bread, jam, tea and coffee.

FOOD ALLERGIES:

Travelling in South East Asia with a food allergy? We have some advice for you here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/travelling-food-allergies-south-east-asia/

icon readmoreicon minusMoney matters

SPENDING MONEY:

When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

Budget for meals not included:

USD 500.00

The official currency of Thailand is the baht (THB). The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency is via ATMs which are available in most towns and cities. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange. Clean bills in small denominations are most useful. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels and more upmarket shops and shopping centres.

CAMBODIA:

You can use your credit/debit card in ATMs, which are common throughout Cambodia. These machines dispense cash in USD. There is no need to bring lots of cash with you unless you prefer not to use ATMs. There is also no need to pre-purchase Cambodian riel prior to arriving in the country. Most travellers never need to have more than USD10 worth of Cambodian riel on them at any one time, as USD cash is widely accepted. After making a payment in USD, change is often given in Cambodian riel. Many businesses are unable to change larger notes (USD20, USD50 or USD100), so we recommend carrying a mix of denominations. If you are obtaining USD cash prior to arrival in Cambodia, please check that all your notes are in good condition and not old. Banknotes that are crumpled, torn, marked or printed before 2006 are generally not accepted. USD2 banknotes are also not accepted. Please be warned that some banks at Cambodian airports may tell you that you need to change your USD cash into Cambodian riel, but this is not true. 

VIETNAM:

You can use your credit/debit card in ATMs, which are common throughout Vietnam. These machines dispense cash in VND (Vietnamese dong). Credit/debit cards aren’t accepted for small payments in Vietnam so please ensure you have VND cash to cover daily expenses. Clean banknotes in small denominations are most useful. There is no need to bring lots of cash with you unless you prefer not to use ATMs. You can obtain VND cash prior to arriving in Vietnam, through normal outlets such as banks and currency exchange offices. 

TIPPING

If you're happy with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Carrying small notes of local currency will make tipping easier. It is best to avoid tipping with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult.

OPTIONAL TIPPING KITTY

On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty is at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader.

Please note this is a combination trip made up of 2 sections. There will be the option of contributing to a group tipping kitty on both sections of this trip.

Day 1 Optional tipping kitty for this section: USD 18 per person

Day 12 Optional tipping kitty for this section: USD 18 per person

YOUR TOUR LEADER

You may consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:

We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

COMMISSIONS

Unfortunately, commissions in exchange for recommending particular shops or restaurants are an ingrained part of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye, we’ve tried to legitimise the practise with a centralised fund. Moneys are collected from recommended and fully vetted suppliers and funnelled back into our business. This keeps the trip cost low (for us and for you) and makes sure you only get the best experiences.

If you’re unhappy with any places your leader recommends, or feel the quality of the trip is being compromised in any way, please let us know in your feedback.

icon readmoreicon minusWhat to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are also convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

LOCAL DRESS: When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

WATER BOTTLE: This trip includes one or more sections in a private vehicle with a water dispenser. We encourage all our travellers to bring a refillable water bottle on your trip to help reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles.

icon readmoreicon minusClimate and seasonal

CAMBODIAN FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS:

During public holidays and festival periods in Cambodia some businesses may close, transport may be extremely busy and travel times may increase. The main holidays in Cambodia are:

Chinese New Year (25 - 27 January 2020)

Khmer New Year (14 - 17 April 2020)

Royal Birthday of the King Sihamoni (13 - 15 May 2020)

Pchum Ben Day ( 27-30 September 2019, 16 - 19 September 2020)

Water & Moon Festival (10 - 12 November 2019, 30 October - 2 November 2020)

CAMBODIA SEASONAL FLOODING:

Severe storms and widespread seasonal flooding, including localised flash flooding, can occur without warning in Cambodia, particularly during the local wet season from July to November. The Cambodia/Thailand land border is occasionally closed due to flooding. Should land travel be disrupted and we need to fly, travellers will need to use their contingency funds to cover any additional costs.

TET (20-24 January 2020, 11-16 February 2021):

Tet is Vietnam’s New Year festival which takes place in late January/early February based on the lunar calendar and is the most important celebration of the year. While this can be a fascinating time to be in Vietnam, you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Although we do our best to run trips during Tet as per the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or order of destinations visited. Due to the high demand on tickets at this time, flights and overnight trains may on occasion need to be replaced with day buses. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure.

CLIMATE & CLOTHING:

For the majority of the year, the temperature in Vietnam is normally warm and humid, particularly from Hoi An southward. North of here, it can be cool between late November and March. If travelling at this time it is advisable to bring some some warmer clothing, particular if you plan to visit the Central Highlights or Sapa.

WET SEASON:

Flooding is common across Vietnam during rainy season (June-December) and could also lead to landslides. Typhoons are also common during this period. During these months there may be disruptions to transport and some activities or destinations may need to be changed as a result at short notice.

icon readmoreicon minusA couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.

By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

icon readmoreicon minusFeedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

icon readmoreicon minusEmergency contact

GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +855 92 555 969

Intrepid's Vietnam Office: +84 903 117 770

icon readmoreicon minusResponsible travel

Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.

Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:

While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including World Animal Protection advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/elephants-welfare

ORPHANAGE TOURISM

In recent times orphanage tourism has become increasingly popular in Cambodia. Orphanage tourism is what happens when good intentions and reality don’t quite synch up. Travellers who visit and volunteer in orphanages may genuinely want to help, but their efforts can often perpetuate a system where children are separated from their families and, in some cases, abused. That’s why we don't include visits to orphanages on any of our trips. For more on our position on orphanage tourism and the work we are doing to protect children in the countries we visit, see these links below:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/the-fight-against-orphanage-tourism/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/why-were-rethinking-orphanage-tourism/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/sites/intrepid/files/basic_page/files/IG%20Child-Protection-Flyer-LR.pdf

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS

Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

HOTELS:

Most of the accommodation on this trip is in hotels (mostly 2 to 3-star). Facilities are often basic, with some properties not having a continuous supply of hot water on occasion. All rooms are either fan cooled or with air conditioning and twin share with private facilities unless stated otherwise in the daily itinerary. Double beds are not widely available in South East Asia.

WINDOWLESS ROOMS:

Some hotels in South East Asia have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also do not require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however they aren't always available.

DAY ROOMS & EARLY CHECK IN:

Please note in some destinations we will provide use of day rooms. These rooms are provided for shared group use before or after overnight train journeys. We have some days where we arrive at our destination before check in time and a day room is not included. If you have booked a Single Supplement for your trip, it will not apply to these day rooms. Your leader may be able to assist you in booking a room for your sole use (depending on availability) until our regular trip rooms become available for an additional charge. Please talk to your leader at the Welcome Meeting if this is a service you would like to request.

icon readmoreicon minusTravel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

icon readmoreicon minusYour fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

SINGLE TRAVELLERS:

Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

icon readmoreicon minusItinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES:

Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

TRAVELLERS ON THE 24 DECEMBER 2019 AND 29 DECEMBER 2019 DEPARTURES:

This is a combination trip, consisting of Cambodia Adventure (TKRR) and Vietnam Discovery (TVRN).

As these departures commence in December and conclude in January, the first trip from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City will be running on the 2019 itinerary.

The second trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi will be running on the 2020 itinerary.

There will be a change to the second trip, where the two nights in Tuy Hoa will be replaced with an extra night in Hoi An and an extra night on Cat Ba Island. The itinerary will be rearranged as below:

Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City

Day 13 Mekong Delta

Day 14 Mekong Delta – Overnight train

Day 15 Hoi An

Day 16 Hoi An

Day 17 Hoi An

Day 18 Hue

Day 19 Hue – Overnight train

Day 20 Hanoi

Day 21 Da Bac

Day 22 Hanoi

Day 23 Cat Ba Island

Day 24 Cat Ba Island

Day 25 Hanoi

Day 26 Hanoi

For full details of the second section of these departures, please view the 2020 itinerary on this page and review the Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi days of the trip.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:

A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.

Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation

Guesthouse (4 nights),Homestay (2 night),Hotel (16 nights),Overnight sleeper train (3 nights)

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